Who We Are
Gary E. Smith, MBA, ECCS, CB, HoF
Owner and CEO
Founder: Leisure Travel Benefits Specialist & C.E.O
Gary fell in love with cruising at 14 when he went on his first Caribbean cruise. At 17 he started his first business and eventually moved into the event planning business more than 25 years ago. He founded and grew a convention management firm from scratch to handling over 70,000 attendees annually, including a city-wide convention of over 20,000 each year. As an off-shoot of that work, Gary started doing events on cruise ships.
Gary is one of the few travel agents with both a meeting planner background and an incredible resume of leisure travel experiences and sales. This varied experience makes him uniquely capable of understanding the needs and desires of his clients.
Prior to re-branding as TravelPerks, Gary grew his leisure travel business to the largest of over 920 Dream Vacations franchises (now almost 1200) in the United States. Along the way, he has won virtually every award possible - including being named one of the top 25 travel agents in America for 2013. In 2018, he was named CLIA’s Elite Cruise Counselor of the Year, their top honor.
Gary loves cruising and travel of all types, and with 15 river cruises already completed, he is a wealth of information on this hot industry segment.
While running TravelPerks Dream Vacations keeps him plenty busy, he also finds time to travel with his wonderful wife Theresa. In addition, he is a college professor teaching small business management and mentoring over 100 small businesses in his community.
V.P. of Retail Sales
Theresa has always loved to travel. At age 21, she spent three years at Clark AFB in the Philippines. Spending most of her early travel days in the US and Canada, Theresa enjoyed Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Yosemite Park, Edmonton, Calgary, and many more! She has one amazing daughter, Kathryna Hancock, who is a fashion photographer in Los Angeles.
Theresa's background and early career were in law. She worked in criminal law, business law, and personal injury law, assisting injured workers until 1998 when she began working with the Oregon Attorney General’s office as a paralegal assigned to parental rights termination cases. During her 17-year career, she was twice awarded the Department of Justice Outstanding Service Award for her work protecting children. Theresa worked hard on cases involving children harmed by alcohol, drugs, and domestic violence, specializing in cases involving horrific abuse.
While pursuing her career in law, Theresa met and married Gary and so began her love of cruising. Learning more and more about the travel industry, Theresa began attending travel conferences and seminars, as well as assisting with marketing at trade shows. By 2014, TravelPerks had grown such that Gary and Theresa decided that it was time she make a huge career change and transition to their travel agency. Once the transition was complete, she never looked back!
Since then, TravelPerks has grown to the second-largest franchise in a network of nearly 1200 agencies! Theresa's great love is talking to people about traveling and helping them realize their own dream vacations. As of this writing in Summer 2021, she has completed 30 Ocean Cruises, 15 River Cruises, stayed at many all-inclusive resorts, and enjoyed several guided land tours, meaning she has a wealth of information to share with the potential cruise or land traveler!
We have a wonderful team of travel advisors ready to help you plan your dream vacation. Call our U.S.-based travel agency and get ready to take the adventure of a lifetime 541-349-0036!